At least a couple of individuals (not me) have requested a document the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) board received from ICCSD’s attorney about public comment at board meetings and were refused. I am disappointed that the board and district officials have chosen not to release this document.
What is the school district trying to hide? What can be so sensitive about this document? The board’s public comment policy/guidelines have been controversial enough. The board does not need to make this more controversial by withholding information from the public.
THE TOP FIVE REASONS TO RELEASE THE RECORD
5. Release is not prohibited under Iowa’s open records law since the document was not prepared by an attorney for or in anticipation of a lawsuit.
4. While Iowa’s attorney rules generally prohibit a lawyer from revealing “information relating to the representation of a client,” there is NOTHING that prohibits the board from releasing the document to the public—and it’s the district and board that’s been asked for the document, not the lawyer (so just release it!).
3. If any district officials are going to use the contents of the document to attempt to curtail public comment, the board should be a good sport, level the playing field, and release the document.
2. The veil of secrecy makes some suspect that the board requested the attorney’s opinion to figure out how to squelch critics before the big bond issue. Hiding documents from the public should not be part of a “How to Market a Bond” strategy!
1. Taxpayers paid for this document and the salaries of top district officials–not releasing the document is just silly and petty.
There is nothing that prevents an individual board member from releasing the document. Which board member will have the courage to do what is right and make the document public? Or better yet, how about the whole board demonstrating transparency by releasing the document? Or in addition and even better yet, why not just forget about curtailing free speech, let people express their views, and not spend time and money on stifling critics. Surely, the district has more important issues to focus its attention on?
For more on this issue, please see Chris Liebig’s blog at http://ablogaboutschool.blogspot.com/ where he is clearly correct that the board could release the document.